On Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 11:34 PM, Chris de Morsella <cdemorse...@yahoo.com>

>>> The computer requires a substrate in which to operate upon -- the CPU
chips for example are what our computers operate on. I know of no computer
that does not require this external structured environment  

>> The human requires a substrate in which to operate upon -- the brain for
example is what our human minds  operate on. I know of no human that does
not require this external structured environment.   

> Yes. and?

>>And you tell me, those are your ideas not mine. I don't see the relevance
but I thought you did. 


There is no relevance unless one is attempting to posit the existence of a
universal computer. All measurable processes - including information
processing -- happen over and require for their operations some physical
substrate. My point, which I believe either you may have missed or you are
dodging is that therefore a universal computer is impossible, because there
would always need to be some underlying and external container for the
process that could not therefore itself be completely contained within the


>>> Every computer in existence requires external enabling hardware.

>>Every human in existence requires external enabling hardware.


> Yes but humans are not universal computing machines,

>>If we're not universal then we are provincial computing machines. Do you
really think this strengthens your case concerning the superiority of

Whoa there, when did I make that statement? I am not interested in nor do I
much care whether humans are superior or inferior to computers or, in fact
termites or microbes or anything else we could potentially be measured
against. This does not drive my interest in the least. Who cares about our
relative ranking in the universe; certainly not I.

> if indeed we are machines. 

>>We are either cuckoo clocks or roulette wheels, take your pick.  

Not sure whether you are attempting to be funny or are pouring the irony on
a little thick. An average human brain has somewhere around 86 billion
neurons and as far as we are able to count around 100 trillion synapses.
Characterizing this fantastically dense crackling network as a cuckoo clock
or a roulette wheel is rather facile. If we are machines then we are surely
fantastically complex and highly dynamic ones. 

> Do we know enough about how our brains work and are structured to the
level that we would need to in order to be able to answer that question with
any degree of certainty? 

Yes absolutely! I can say with no fear of contradiction that things in the
brain happen for a reason or they do not happen for a reason.

You have said absolutely nothing that means anything more than reiterating
your belief in reductionism. Something either happens or does not happen for
a reason. sure.. and so what? What insight have you uncovered by stating the
obvious. It certainly does not help answer the question I posed. We do not
know enough about brain function in order to be able to model it with
anything approaching certainty. This was my point and your reply added
nothing of substance to that point, as far as I can see. 

I can say that things happen, for a reason or they do not happen for a
reason, for any phenomena whatsoever, in the universe, but I have not
therefore, by stating the obvious, uncovered any deeper truths or given any
insight into any process or underlying physical laws. It is meaningless and
it leads nowhere in terms of providing any actual valuable insight or
explanation. It speaks but without saying anything. What is your point? What
insight does that give you into the mechanisms by which thought,
self-awareness, consciousness, arise in our brains? 

> I was referring to the hypothesized deterministic universe, in which
everything that has happened can be computed from the initial state and has
followed on from that original set of conditions

Everything in modern physics and mathematics says that determinism is false,
but who cares, we were talking about intelligence and biological minds and
computer minds; what does the truth of falsehood of determinism have to do
with the price of eggs?   

I suspect we may be having parallel conversations and are simply not
communicating all that well. 

In principle I am agnostic about AI arising in a machine. I am humble enough
however to admit that so much of the fine grained details of brain
functioning are still not understood and that therefore it is impossible for
us to model the dynamic functioning of the human brain. Perhaps someday -
even soon maybe - we will have the fine detailed maps of all the connections
(including all the axons as well) and the dynamic patterns of activity that
traverse them - but until then all we really have is hypothesis &

And.. Until we are able to build a fine grained and falsifiable model of how
the brain works and this model can be shown (by not being falsified of
course) that it is able to have a powerfully predictive value of outcomes
based on initial conditions then we cannot say exactly how such qualia as
self-awareness, consciousness and intelligent creative thought arise within
us or that this process is replicable in an artificial machine.

Or can we? If so. care to explain how? 



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